Postmodern Prose

A British schoolteacher recently achieved notoriety by refusing to let her students attend Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Her objection? The play is "too heterosexual," the teacher complained. In the age of gay rights, portraying a normal, heterosexual romance is apparently no longer politically correct. Examples of political correctness are often so egregious, we may be tempted to dismiss them as mere educational high-jinks. But that would be a mistake. As law professor Phillip Johnson explains in his new book Reason in the Balance, political correctness, or post-modernism, is the logical result of ideas held by many ordinary Americans. In a nutshell, postmodernism says there are no universal truths valid for all people. Instead, individuals are locked into the limited perspective of their own race, gender, or ethnic group. That's why even classic literature, like "Romeo and Juliet," is being deconstructed for its treatment of sex and gender. Yet, ironically, even though postmodernism insists that there's no ultimate truth, it actually rests on a very definite conviction about ultimate truth: It rests on the philosophy of naturalism, the belief that nature is all that exists. From elementary school on, Americans are taught that the universe needs no God to explain it, that Darwinian evolution is enough to explain where we came from. Our educational system is committed lock, stock, and barrel to naturalism. But if there is no God, then obviously we have to throw out the idea that God has revealed transcendent, universal truths for us to live by. And without divine revelation, each person is locked into his or her own limited, individual perspective. Which is exactly what postmodernism teaches. This direct line from naturalism to postmodernism was argued brilliantly in an article in The Humanist magazine. The author points out that "naturalism eliminates the possibility of transcendent spiritual . . . knowledge." Hence "the logical next step for the culture that has presided over the death of God" is the death of universal truth. Postmodernism. The same progression can be traced in the personal life of postmodernist guru Richard Rorty. In an autobiographical essay, Rorty reveals that as a college student he was attracted to Christianity, especially to the Anglo-Catholic elements in the poetry of T.S. Eliot. But Rorty says he was "incapable" of the "humility that Christianity demanded," and he turned away from God—only to discover that a world with no God is a world with no basis for universal truths or moral absolutes. None of us is capable of stepping outside our own culturally limited perspective to see how things really are in themselves. Only divine revelation can give us that kind of objectivity. So Rorty rejected transcendent truth to become a peddler of postmodernism. When you hear teachers debunking the classics as the work of Dead White Males, remember that it all begins with Darwinism. Once you deny that the world needs God to explain its existence, the "logical next step" is to deny any transcendent truth. And then truth becomes hostage to every race, gender, and ethnic group.    


Chuck Colson


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